Plant A Radish Get A Radish


Remember that great song from the Fantasticks?

“Plant a radish.
Get a radish.
Never any doubt.
That’s why I love vegetables;
You know what you’re about!”

Although I love adventure as much as the next person, and in the kitchen I probably love adventure more than most people, sometimes I just want to serve a meal that is guaranteed to be 100% perfect every time and adored by everyone.  Up until now I’ve successfully resisted the idea of a “go to” meal, but this one sneaked up on me, and now it won’t let me go.  I’ve served it three times recently, to three entirely different groups of French guests, and each and every time it was Guests Going Gaga.


The main dish is this Ragout of Veal with Orange, from Paula Wolfert’s Cooking of Southwest France.  If you’ve ignored all of my previous instructions to run out and buy this wonderful book, you can find the recipe here.  I always double the amount, using a kilo of veal stew meat and an entire bottle of wine.  I also make it in the oven in a big clay pot, baking it at 350° tightly covered for 4 hours, then making the sauce as directed, (except that I don’t add the parsley and chives but rather sprinkle them over the top when I serve the dish), and then putting it in the fridge overnight.  The ragout tastes twice as good the next day, when all you need to do is set it in a slow oven for a couple of hours, uncovered, until the sauce is thick and lush and the meat is falling-apart tender.

The dish has a natural affinity for carrots, and I highly recommend that you serve a big heap of them alongside.  And for a starch?  Have I got a treat for you: Gnocchetti di Semola!

 I got this recipe years ago from a former personal chef colleague, Leigh Ochs, who learned it at a cooking class in Tuscany.  It languished in my recipe file until, as if by magic, it popped into my mind the first time I made the veal ragout.  It was an instant hit, a fluffy, rich square of gnocchi-like sauce-absorbing creamy deliciousness.  And the stellar thing about it, even more than the wonderful taste and texture, is the fact that you can easily make it a couple of hours ahead and just warm it for a few minutes before serving.

So here’s what you do.  Three hours before dinner take your ragout out of the fridge to begin coming up to room temperature and make your gnocchetti.  When the gnocchetti is done, set it on the counter somewhere out of the way and put the ragout in the oven.  Ten minutes before serving, take the ragout out, cover to keep warm, and give the gnocchetti another little blast of heat.  Serve the two with some buttery carrots and hey presto, your guests will be licking their lips and then their plates.

Gnocchetti di Semola

1 quart of whole milk            
6 1/2 oz fine semolina flour 
4 oz butter
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
 additional butter
 handful of fresh sage leaves
 salt to taste

Salt the milk and bring it to a light boil.  Turn down the heat to a simmer and slowly sprinkle in the semolina flour, whisking madly all the while to avoid lumps.   Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the butter, then the egg yolks.  Check for salt and add more if necessary.  Butter a 9×13″ baking dish and pour in the semolina paste, smoothing the top.   Dot with additional butter, cover the top with a good number of sage leaves, torn up if they’re too large, and sprinkle the Parm over the whole.  Bake at 375° until golden bown, about 30 minutes. I sometimes give it a minute or two under the grill to get the top extra golden, but you don’t want the cheese to get crunchy, so be gentle.

And there you have it.  A perfect meal that is guaranteed to please everyone at your table.  And nary a radish in sight.

Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France, Posts Containing Recipes

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5 Comments on “Plant A Radish Get A Radish”

  1. Eden Says:

    Anything you’re going back to that much has to rock. Clearly it’s time to pull out Paula & try the Veal with Orange!

    I make a very similar gnocchi but with polenta instead of semolina, as one of my go to starches because 1) everyone loves it, 2) it’s incredibly versatile, and 3) most of my friends with food allergies can eat it safely.

  2. Sandra Says:

    The recipe sounds wonderful…when I go to read it, there are some strange measurements: &frac23 — could you please let me know what this represents as a measurement. I’ve searched for the recipe to find out what it should be, to no avail. Thank you, Abra. Have a good trip home!

  3. Leigh Ochs Says:

    Hi Abra!

    I’m so glad you tried the gnocchetti and your guests enjoyed it.

    Love your blog!

  4. Lauren Says:

    Yum! I need to try this out before our spring weather nudges me away from foods from the oven.

  5. Abra Bennett Says:

    Sandra – wow, you’re right, that recipe is a mess. I’m sorry I didn’t look at it more closely! Here’s the ingredient list in a more readable format:

    1 1/2 lbs veal stew
    1/3 cup diced pancetta
    2 T vegetable oil
    1-2 veal bones
    2 cups dry white wine
    1 1/2 cups rich veal or chicken stock
    2 medium onions
    4 garlic cloves
    bouquet garni
    1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
    salt and pepper
    1/2 – 2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    2/3 cup heavy cream
    zest of 1 orange
    2 tsp minced fresh chives
    1 tsp minced parsley


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